The unprecedented volume of data produced, collected, shared, and stored on a daily basis has become a hallmark of the modern working world. Amid growing demands for data protection and transparency, and evolving regulatory requirements like GDPR, it is clear to both companies and consumers that our masses of data require the best management methods available. However, that’s only the first step.
The challenge to businesses today is how to use that carefully managed, tracked, and protected data to benefit internal processes and overall performance, particularly for essential functions like global payroll. Luckily the solution lies in the same technology that enables better information management: a single source of truth. Rather than maintaining versions of the same data in separate systems, forward-looking organizations are integrating core business systems and thereby creating one source of information that is kept up to date and used seamlessly across the enterprise.
This single source of truth ensures that related functions are using the most current information at all times and provides numerous additional benefits. By adopting single-source, data-driven solutions, organizations can address internal needs, compliance requirements, and a range of other goals.
As the most fundamental goal in payroll, the pursuit of accuracy guides most decision-making around solution choices and process planning. However, the majority of multinational organizations maintain data in disparate systems and then transfer information to and from functions as needed. This method creates versions and introduces opportunities for data to be changed or corrupted.
In contrast, a single data source enables all departments to use the exact same, most current information. Because the data is integrated directly into whichever system is being used—whether for payroll, HCM, finance, or another function—there is no need for manual handling of the data and therefore no opportunity for error. The result is greater precision with less effort, a clear benefit for teams working with challenging data sets like payroll that can change regularly.
To be maintained within a single source, data must be standardized, meaning it is collected in the same format according to the same procedures. Particularly for global payroll and HR, this consistency can benefit employees by streamlining processes and standardizing their experiences across the enterprise. Additionally, a single source of data helps ensure consistency in reporting and calculations, which benefits not only payroll results but also overall compliance efforts. A single source of data is part of what’s known as a defensive data strategy, which includes protection protocols and workflows concerned with keeping data secure. Consistency in data format and management is central to these security efforts—and becomes automatic when maintaining a single data source.
The ability to see precisely what is happening within your organization at any given time is invaluable when it comes to analyzing performance and improving processes. Reviewing outcomes and exception reports after the fact just doesn’t cut it. With a single source of data, information is kept up to date throughout the payroll process, enabling your teams in payroll, HR, and other related functions to access real-time, accurate data as it’s needed. Greater data visibility means issues can be identified and addressed before they affect payroll outcomes, and advanced analytics can reveal opportunities for process improvement that could be missed by looking only at end reports.
The true potential of big data and analytics lies in their ability to help multinational organizations adapt and innovate. The accuracy, consistency, and visibility provided by single-source, data-driven payroll enables business leaders to look strategically at the future, make better informed decisions, and understand the impacts of changes in payroll as well as elsewhere in the organization. Because single-source data requires integration with related functions, like HR, Finance, or Accounting, companies who adopt this strategy benefit from having a more complete picture to look at when evaluating options for expansion or workforce planning.
The Big Picture
By integrating data-heavy functions and creating a single source of information on which those teams as well as company executives can rely, global organizations can set themselves up for a more informed and agile future. While the costs of integration are dropping, the ease and availability of integrated solutions are improving—making now an excellent time to explore your options.
The new normal of integrated data and functions is now commonplace, and it’s time for that reality to include payroll, arguably your largest source of workforce data and the one that is updated with every pay cycle. Only by integrating your payroll function can you see the big picture, which is ultimately the best source of truth you can have.
A version of this article previously appeared in the Global Payroll magazine from Global Payroll Management Institute.